A new column in the Tube Times
Sprocket is a performing artist/percussionist/storyteller/transplant from Portland, Oregon (another great biking city!) and can be seen riding around on her beloved Dahon folding bike. You can send inquiries, tales of woe, romantic failures (about your bike, of course!) to her via e-mail, She promises to answer your questions in the most accurate, empathetic and informative manner. Safe riding everyone!
Apr-May 2007: Web-only extra
I've got a question for you. I've been bike-and-train commuting from San Mateo to San Francisco for about 9 months. Now that my first winter as a bike commuter is setting in, I've got my fenders, my rain gear, my lights -- I'm almost ready to deal with the rain-slicked streets of San Francisco. There's just one problem: I wear glasses. The fairly light rainstorms we've had so far this year have proved that it doesn't take much precipitation before my glasses get covered in raindrops, making them totally useless. I can't effectively wipe them while I'm riding, and I can't take them off completely (I'm nearsighted).
So, what can I do to protect my ability to see in the rain? I've tried wearing a big-brimmed cap under my helmet, and it keeps some rain off, but not all of it. I've even considered wearing a snorkeling mask over my glasses, which would at least be easier to wipe off but would probably cut my peripheral vision unacceptably. But surely you know a cleverer solution!
Rain in my 4-eyes
I feel your pain, as well as the rain. myself a transplant from a rainy city (Portland, Oregon), I've ridden in many a wet day and night. I too am nearsighted and an eyeglass wearer, and save from wearing contacts when it's pouring out, I haven't found many effective solutions to the biking-while wearing-glasses-in-the-rain dilemma myself. There are a few things I've tried though:
- used some anti-fog/anti-rain solution on my eyeglasses (you know, the kind they put on windshields) — Result: keeps some rain away but not all, makes me leery what the chemicals may do to my lenses and eyes. not a permanent solution since you need to keep applying the stuff on your lenses.
- made a makeshift "face shield" and taped it on my helmet — Result: hmmm... well, if it wasn't windy also, and the plastic and adhesive stayed in place, it probably would have been effective
- blinked A LOT — Result: um, well, you know how that goes
I've looked online as well and found such things as prescription "biking" glasses. They appear to be the wraparound kind and are meant to provide as full visibility as possible. Whether they'd be effective in the rain is another question. The one other thought I had, since the closest solution from the above was the makeshift "face shield" idea was to look into a helmet that has a face shield (I've seen motocross bikers wear them). Presumably, they're meant to keep semi-liquid things like mud out but you'd have to decide whether you're willing to have a heavier and heftier helmet on your head when you're commuting.I wish I had a better solution. Perhaps other SFBC members might have suggestions (send me an email folks!) or brilliant ideas. I'll certainly pass them along to you! Remember, sharing is caring!
Dec 2006-Jan 2007: Web-only extra
What can I do? When I ride on the diamond lane of post street heading downtown, too many times, taxi cabs are using the diamond lane as a passing lane.
Well, it's hard when us bicyclists need to remember that we do need to share the road with other moving objects (like vehicles, other cyclists, pedestrians, etc.) too. My gut reaction to your dilemma is to be on the safer side and just be wary of the tendencies of taxis and other vehicles to use the bike lane as a passing lane and making sure you prevent yourself from getting into any fatal accidents. The truth is, the California Vehicle Code includes information about when vehicles other than bikes use the bike lane. Here's what it says:
(a) No person shall drive a motor vehicle in a bicycle lane established on a roadway pursuant to Section 21207 except as follows:
(1) To park where parking is permitted.
(2) To enter or leave the roadway.
(3) To prepare for a turn within a distance of 200 feet from the intersection.
(b) This section does not prohibit the use of a motorized bicycle in a bicycle lane, pursuant to Section 21207.5, at a speed no greater than is reasonable or prudent, having due regard for visibility, traffic conditions, and the condition of the roadway surface of the bicycle lane, and in a manner which does not endanger the safety of bicyclists.
The (b) section of the law is what makes it a "gray area" in terms of what is allowed and not allowed to be done in bike lanes. I'd say taxis using the bike lane as a passing lane endangers the life of cyclists such as yourself, don't you think? Perhaps it's time to have a serious conversation with those cab companies and see how we can teach those pesky drivers to better share the road. You can find out more about bike safety and legalese at http://www.sfbike.org/?bikelaw.
Hmmm, wait a sec though- you asked about a diamond lane- and that, my friend is a designated bus only lane and really, technically, only buses can go on there (not even bikes or taxis!)
Oct-Nov 2006: Web-only extra
I am a novice biker but love the fact that the city of San Francisco is small enough that I can get to point A from point B without a problem. BUT since I am new, I have no idea what the best or fastest or easiest way it is to get to and from places. Any tips on how I can be more efficient with my bike riding?
Bernal Heights Newbie Biker Dude
Well, there are several ways you can navigate around the city and find out the best way, first is the handy dandy San Francisco Bike Map and Walking Guide which you can find at any bike shop, bike friendly stores (like Rainbow Coop) and you can also receive one as part of a paid San Francisco Bike Coalition membership! The guide is really great as it shows official routes, street grades (in case you don't want to huff it!) and also indicates bike friendly businesses along the way.
If you are to venture across the bridge to the East Bay, I've found the Walk Oakland Map & Guide to be very useful in both exploring and navigating around Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, San Leandro, etc.
There you have it, just a couple of ways to help you navigate a bit easily around the city and the East Bay. Happy riding!